By May 11, 2017 Read More →

Natural gas displaced coal in US Northeast generation mix over past 10 years

northeast

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Power Plant Operations Report, Northeast

New Jersey nearly tripled its natural gas-fired generation between 2006 and 2016

The generation fuel mix of electricity in the Northeast Census division of the United States has shifted dramatically over the past 10 years, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

In the nine Northeast states, natural gas nearly doubled its share of the region’s total generation to 41 per cent in 2016, up from 23 per cent in 2006.

Coal-fired generation fell from 31 per cent to 11 per cent of generation over the same period.

Nuclear-powered generation as a share of total generation remained relatively constant near 34 per cent.

Despite more than doubling over the same period, the share of non-hydro renewables remains relatively small.

Overall, total generation in the region declined by 3 per cent between 2006 and 2016.

Increased access to low-cost natural gas from the Marcellus Shale and other regional shale plays has driven the switch away from coal in the Northeast United States.

Environmental policies at the federal and regional level, such as production tax credits, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, and renewable portfolio standards, have also contributed to the decline in coal generation.

Pennsylvania continues to be a leading coal generator nationally, despite falling by 31 per cent, or 68 million kilowatthours (kWh), between 2006 and 2016.

Coal-fired generation in both New York and Connecticut fell by 90 per cent between 2006 and 2016, or by 19 million kWh and 4.1 million kWh, respectively.

northeast

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Power Plant Operations Report

 

Nuclear generators accounted for 33.9 per cent of Northeast generation in 2006 and 34.98 per cent in 2016.

Although no new nuclear plants were constructed in the Northeast during this period, one plant, Vermont Yankee, ceased operations in Dec. 2014.

Vermont Yankee alone accounted for 72 per cent of total generation in Vermont in 2006.

In addition, several nuclear plants in the Northeast region received approvals for uprates that increased their capacities—some increasing by as much as 15 per cent.

northeast

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Other differences in nuclear output in 2006 and 2016 are likely attributable to the timing of maintenance and refueling cycles.

Hydropower accounted for 7 per cent of Northeast generation in both 2006 and 2016.

Non-hydro renewable generation was a relatively small portion of the overall generation mix in 2016 at 5 per cent, but it had the largest percentage growth rate over the past decade.

States such as New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey more than doubled their non-hydro renewable generation between 2006 and 2016.

Electricity generation growth from non-hydro renewables came primarily from wind and solar; 93 per cent of the wind plants and all of the utility-scale solar plants currently operating in the region have been installed since 2006.

The 30 megawatt Block Island Wind Farm, the first offshore wind project in the United States, began operation in 2016.

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As of 2016, 2.1 gigawatts of utility-scale solar capacity (plants with at least 1 megawatt of capacity) had been installed in the Northeast region.

Much like the rest of the United States, overall electricity use in the Northeast was relatively constant between 2006 and 2016.

Over that period, electricity sales fell by 2 per cent in the Northeast while national sales fell by 1 per cent.

Generation in the Northeast fell by 3 per cent over the same period. With the exception of New Jersey, Connecticut, and New Hampshire, which had increases in generation ranging from 5 per cent to 28 per cent, most Northeast states generated less electricity in 2016 than in 2006.

New Jersey nearly tripled its natural gas-fired generation between 2006 and 2016, and solar generation grew to 1 million kWh of solar in 2016.

Pennsylvania remains the region’s largest net exporter of electricity, despite exports dropping from 73 million kWh in 2006 to 70 million kWh in 2016.

northeast

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Power Plant Operations Report and Electric Power Monthly

 

 

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